Longstanding Irving Street businesses Tart to Tart and Mexican Grill, two vastly different entities that operate under the same roof in the Inner Sunset, are both shutting down on Thursday, April 7. The owners of the businesses, Jenny Cam, was unavailable for comment on Tuesday morning, but staff say that after 45 years the impact of the pandemic and rising rent costs in San Francisco have pushed the businesses beyond the brink.
Carmen Mendoza, an employee on the Mexican Grill side of things for about 10 years, says rent is about to skyrocket past the already-difficult-to-pay $8,000 a month. Mendoza tells Eater SF that the landlord asked Cam for a new lease at about $13,000 a month, and Cam won’t take up the offer. On top of that, the loss of business brought about by the pandemic was just too much to bear for the local hangout.
Mendoza says Mexican Grill is going away for good, but fans can keep their eyes open for Tart to Tart down the road, as Cam is looking for a smaller location to reopen in. Mendoza says she’s sad she’ll have to start looking for work after all this time; Vincent Cam, a baker at the business for more than 20 years and brother to owner Jenny, says he’s sad to be out of a job, too.
Neither business is gone just yet, though. On Monday, one customer said the burrito from the humble Mexican Grill stall within the Tart to Tart space, just to the side of the ice cream case, is as good as any in the neighborhood. The espresso shake was “only for the serious,” according to signage. The dark roast coffee was serious, too, but $1.85 shortbread cookies were perfect for dunking to make the brew a bit sweeter. In 2003 the now-defunct alt-weekly SF Weekly awarded the shop its “Best Tarts” award for a $2.75 slice of Linzer tart, and in 2005 the also now-defunct San Francisco Guardian awarded it the “Best Place to Witness Med Students at Leisure.” The big windows and abundance of outdoor seating made it an eyecatcher for weekend strollers looking for something sweet and cheap for decades.